South Asian powerhouse India shall be taking on neighbours Nepal in a football friendly at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai on Tuesday. The 'Blue Tigers' shall be boosted by the return of star striker Sunil Chhetri who has recovered from a hamstring injury and shall be available for the clash.
The Indian team would be high on confidence after securing a series of impressive wins against higher-ranked oppositions and breaking into the FIFA top 100 in almost two decades.
The international friendly is to be played at the Football Arena in Andheri Sports Complex where India's dramatic ascension to no. 100 in the FIFA rankings commenced last September with a 4-0 rout of Puerto Rico.
The Indian squad has been sweating it out at the same venue for three weeks now with only the players from Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan missing for the major part due to their club commitments.
With them joining the camp a few days ahead of the friendly against Nepal, which is being used as the tune-up for India's vital AFC Asian Cup Group A qualifier againstKyrgyzstan next week, national head coach Stephen Constantine would be keen to put his best team on the park and make them jell again as a combination.
The players had dispersed to fulfil their respective club commitments after notching up a memorable 1-0 win over Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup group opener in March end and the main aim will be to reunite in a proper way for the June 13 game against Kyrgyzstan at Bengaluru.
"The mood in the team is great. We are all excited to be representing the country again after the long season.
The Nepal game is important so that we are set up before the gameagainst Kyrgyzstan," key midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh told reporters on Saturday.
"It's the right preparation (for the game against Kyrgyzstan at Bengaluru) as playing against any team will help us to jell as a team. We are coming back after so many months and it's important to get our system right before playing against Kyrgyzstan," Lyngdoh added.
The team will obviously miss the services of winger Udanta Singh, who has picked up a serious hamstring injury and is out of this game as well as the more important one against the Kyrgyz Republic.
It was Udanta who had laid the perfect pass for Chhetri to bulge the net in the dying moments of the game against Myanmar in Yangoon on March 28.
Coming to the India-Nepal football rivalry, the hosts have not lost to their north-eastern neighbours for 18 years, their last defeat - a 0-4 rout - happening in the 1999 SAF Games.
After that reversal, the two South Asian neighbours have met on nine occasions and India has come out trumps on all but two of these encounters which were goalless draws.
Their last contest was in the South Asian Football Federation championship in December 2015 and India had emerged 4-1 victors.
(With Inputs from PTI)